- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 30, 2001


SYRACUSE, N.Y. This time Georgetown didn't wait until the game's closing minutes to collapse.
The Hoyas spent their last two Big East games disappearing down the stretch at home; last night, they failed to show up for the first half on the road.
Playing by far its worst half of the season, Georgetown buried itself in a 15-point halftime trench at No. 12 Syracuse and simply didn't have the firepower to recover, falling to the Orangemen 70-63 in front of a typically raucous Carrier Dome crowd.
After their torrid 16-0 start, the Hoyas (17-3, 4-3 Big East) have dropped three straight conference games and find themselves trailing the Orangemen (17-3, 6-2) by 1 and 1/2 games in the West division as they prepare for Saturday's potential slump-buster against lowly West Virginia.
"I thought that Syracuse did a great job on defense on us in the first half and really took us out of any type of rhythm on offense. I think we were fortunate to be down by only 15," Georgetown coach Craig Esherick said after his team limped into intermission down 37-22. "It didn't seem like we could make a pass. They were more aggressive than we were on the boards. I was considering staying in the locker room at halftime, I'll tell you that… . To be honest with you, in the first half I thought we were going to lose by 40."
The reason for the performance was relatively simple. On the perimeter, backcourt starters Gerald Riley and Demetrius Hunter, both underclassmen, were experiencing the oft-overwhelming environment in the Carrier Dome for the first time. The two combined to commit six of the team's season-high 15 first-half turnovers while making only one of six shots. Two of those misses were Riley airballs from 3-point range, cementing his knee-shaking status to a chorus of mockery from the 21,054 fans. In one particularly telling moment midway through the woeful half, Esherick yanked Riley from the lineup, watched Hunter toss a ball away and screamed to him from the bench, "Are you scared, too?"
In the middle, things were little better for the Hoyas. Despite their enormous size advantage over the Orangemen, the Hoyas were outhustled on the boards. Senior center Ruben Boumtje Boumtje came out soft and slow for the third straight game. The 7-foot co-captain bobbled balls, barely hit the backboard on his three shots from the field and gave way to sophomore Wesley Wilson after coming up scoreless in consecutive games for the first time in his career.
"I don't know [what's wrong with Boumtje Boumtje]," Esherick said about his big man's midseason slump. "I'm considering not starting him [Saturday against West Virginia]."
Despite the horrifying half, Georgetown rallied after intermission behind some intense defense and the solid play of junior point guard Kevin Braswell (23 points) and freshman power forward Mike Sweetney (14 points, 13 rebounds). The Hoyas trimmed the lead to 48-43 on a pair of free throws by Braswell with 10:06 remaining. But just a minute later, Syracuse halted their momentum when Wilson was ejected from the game for his reaction to a hard foul by Syracuse point guard Allen Griffin (nine assists) on Hunter. Though Hunter made one of his two free throws to cut the lead to four, Syracuse swingman Preston Shumpert (23 points) dropped both technicals and power forward Damone Brown (23 points) tacked on two more points to turn the technical call into a four-point Syracuse possession and a 52-44 lead.
The Hoyas scrambled back once more behind consecutive baskets from Braswell and Sweetney to shave the lead to 53-48, but a 3-pointer from Deshaun Williams on the Orangemen's next possession quashed that last comeback surge with 6:20 remaining.

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